Concerns II


"I'm concerned about the socially-undesirable implications of the correlations documented in these published studies, which seem consistent with my own observations and personal experience."

(studying them) "Hey! These correlation coefficients are not equal to one! In fact, all of them are substantially less than one! How dare you try to construct predictive models about how the world works, when you yourself admit that your model won't assign literally all of its probability mass to the exact outcome?!"

(in despair, as if realizing that the nature of reasoning as an adaptation for arguing with conspecifics in imperfectly-deceptive social organisms implies that no one can ever have a serious, grown-up conversation about anything important) "Just kill meeeeeeeeeee"

One thought on “Concerns II

  1. (I apologize profusely if this message was written less charitably than it could have been.)

    "The [argumentative] nature of reasoning as an adaptation"

    Even though I'd intuitively realized that we evolved advanced reasoning faculties mainly to deal with social situations, it was nice to see that someone already came up with a concise handle for that concept, so I'm glad that you posted that link.

    If the argumentative nature of reasoning means that nobody can have adult conversations, why exactly might that be upsetting? If it is more upsetting to you that people in your ingroup can't have adult conversations about a topic close to your heart than it is that outgroup members can't have adult conversations about, say, Sri Lankan politics, that tells you something important.

    I sometimes prefer to have have adult conversations on topics which members of my ingroup also care about, but sometimes prefer to have socially comfortable conversations on those topics. Viscerally, this feels to me from the inside like having a conversation at a certain degree of seriousness is just *correct*, but on some deeper level, I bet that I unintentionally nudge conversations to be more or less serious in a way that roughly maximizes how many social acceptance points I will receive. For me, caring about the seriousness of discussions on topics my ingroup wants to reason about, and not caring about the seriousness of discussions on Sri Lankan politics, is something that happens because of an adaptive drive.

    If you care about the adultness of discussion on all topics discussed by humans, or the adultness of discussion on topics where the quality of the discussion is of utilitarian importance, then maybe your desire for people to act more grown-up in conversations comes from something other than the evolutionary urge to gain greater social standing. But what happens if you concede that your drive to make your ingroup's conversations be more mature comes from the same evolutionary urge that makes people trade conversation seriousness for social desirability-- the urge for social approval, acknowledgement, and praise?

    Hopefully, realizing that the evolutionary reasons that incline you to prefer serious conversations, and the evolutionary reasons that incline others prefer socially desirable conversations are the same would lead you to realize that it's ok that everyone has evolutionary drives, and that Truth does not need a champion so much as Champions need a truth (for evolutionary reasons). Hopefully, reducing the problem to a question of social acknowledgement and praise makes it possible to feel better from hugs and friendship, instead of making your happiness contingent on ingroup members having sufficiently serious discussions on topics dear to you.


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